Mayor bars public from Palace of Justice-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama restricted entry into the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice building, which was affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last Oct. 15.
Rama’s move came after reports that there are people who have been freely going in and out of the building despite it being declared unsafe for occupancy by structural engineers.
Over the weekend, the mayor signed an order directing Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Chief Noli Romana, Dr. Medardo Batiller of the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (Eruf) and lawyer Vonrad Dubluis of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to secure the Palace of Justice.
“You are, hereby, directed to immediately mobilize such sufficient number of police units to secure the building and strictly implement the entry restrictions,” he said.
Rama also ordered them to establish a command post in the area.
As to who can be allowed to enter the building, Rama told CCPO, Eruf and BFP to coordinate with Executive Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Executive Judge Francisco Seville of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) and City Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon of the City Prosecutor’s Office regarding the matter.
Since the Palace of Justice has been declared unsafe, the 22 courts of the RTC and the eight courts from the MTC will be transferred to the Cebu Eastern College.
Meanwhile, the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), whose building has also been damaged by the earthquake, is expected to start accepting patients again within this week in the temporary hospital at the BFP 7 building.
The CCMC management is almost done transferring the hospital equipment to the BFP building.
The hospital operations transferred to the BFP area after Mayor Michael Rama ordered the demolition of CCMC building since it is no longer safe.
Once demolished, Rama plans to build a new and bigger (1,000-bed capacity) city hospital.
In a related development, Councilor Margarita Osmeña yesterday clarified that she is not against the plan of the mayor to build a new hospital.
Whatever the City decides, Osmeña, who heads the City Council’s committee on budget and finance, said the City has P103 million, which can be tapped to either build a new hospital or do retrofitting works for the facility.
The amount is the unexpended balance of the P103 million calamity fund in 2012.
“While the piso-piso fund-raising campaign continues, we can fast-track the actual construction because City Hall records say there is P103 million that we can immediately use. Why should we allow CCMC patients to stay in makeshift structures and temporary shelters longer?” she added.
The council had earlier pushed for the retrofitting of the CCMC, saying it is cheaper and faster.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 29, 2013.